Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a growing trend for businesses and it’s also a great way for nonprofits to diversify their income and reach new donors.
Many nonprofits aren’t reaping the rewards of CSR partnerships, often because they’re not sure how to go about it.
Even if you’re a smaller organization, there’s still plenty of potential for bringing CSR partners on board and using their funds, resources, and support to further your cause.
What Is Corporate Social Responsibility and Why Do Brands Get Involved?
Corporate Social Responsibility is a way for companies to do good in society and champion organizations that support their values. This can include matching gift programs, donations as funds or goods and volunteer grant programs.
Alongside the philanthropic elements, having a Corporate Social Responsibility program can help brands to stand out from their competitors. Some of the benefits include an improved brand image, increased media coverage, better customer loyalty and more opportunities for investment.
Working with the right nonprofit(s) can help brands to reach a wider audience and support the organization to further their cause.
It’s often true that customers will feel more connected to brands that engage in CSR activities. Many will actively look for companies that are making a meaningful contribution to the community. Similarly, in a recent survey by Deloitte, millennial workers were asked what the primary purpose of businesses should be – 63 percent more of them said ‘improving society’ than ‘generating profit’.
How Corporate Social Responsibility Can Benefit Your Nonprofit
For nonprofits, CSR is an opportunity to build stronger relationships with businesses that have similar values and engage their customers as supporters. This can be invaluable for boosting your revenue and accessing resources that you wouldn’t normally be able to take advantage of.
Since so many businesses are now actively engaging in CSR programs, there’s plenty of scope for choosing partners that align with your organization’s values and can help you reach your goals.
Which Companies Are Well-Known For CSR?
Many well-known brands have embraced CSR and have partnered with various nonprofits to drive change. Here are some companies that are strongly committed to Corporate Social Responsibility:
Adidas is involved in the war against plastic and is working with Parley to turn plastic waste into high-performance sportswear. Since 2018, they’ve also organized the Run For The Oceans events to raise funds.
They’re also partnered with Greenpeace for a DETOX Campaign aimed at eliminating dangerous chemicals from global supply chains. This involved working with other brands to achieve the campaign goal.
Starbucks supports Ethos Water in a campaign that aims to bring clean water to 1 billion people around the world. The Ethos Water Fund is part of the Starbucks Foundation and a percentage of the sales of bottles of Ethos Water go towards the campaign.
The Starbucks Foundation has been investing in local communities for over 20 years — both in the US and around the world. This includes a strong focus on organizations that help people overcome barriers and engage in job and training opportunities.
They award grants directly to organizations, and Starbucks staff volunteer with them to support them further. Learn more about it here
3. Marc Jacobs
The Marc Jacobs brand focuses on supporting organizations in locations where they have stores. They have also collaborated with The Sato Project, a nonprofit that rescues abandoned and abused dogs from Puerto Rico. To date, over 3,500 puppies have been rescued and rehomed in the US.
4. IndiGo Reach
IndiGoReach has partnered with various organizations, including Tamana, Grow Trees, KK Academy, and the World Monument Fund. Their social responsibility aims to focus on children/education, female empowerment, environment, and heritage. To date, their partnerships have helped to empower over 64,000 women, educate more than 47,000 children, and plant over 40,000 trees. Learn more about it here.
For IKEA, social responsibility starts with the materials used in their products — including sustainable cotton, wool, and wood. They also plan to use only recycled or renewable plastic by 2030.
Through the IKEA Foundation, they support more families to escape poverty by creating a sustainable income. They fund programs around climate action, renewable energy, agricultural livelihoods, employment and entrepreneurship, and emergency responses. To deliver these programs, they work with NGOs and other partners.
Bosch is committed to investing in projects that help tackle problems faced by communities around the world. They partner with various organizations, including the New Sunshine Charity Foundation to assist in doing this.
They also champion programs that promote social change. Their “Yallah!” initiative supports young Muslims who are trying to drive change in their communities, for example. Their future CSR goals will focus on climate, energy, water, urbanization, globalization, and health.
7. Ben and Jerry’s
Ben and Jerry’s donate $0.05 from sales of their 1L tub to charity programs. Community-based development projects are a significant part of this.
They also donate some of their pre-tax profits to corporate philanthropic initiatives. This is done through the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation and Community Action Teams (CATs) at site locations.
The Grassroots Organizing for Social Change Program supports grassroots nonprofits in the US, especially ones that work around social justice, environmental justice, and sustainable food systems.
Apple has been involved in the Malala fund as a Laureate partner since 2018 to help educate and empower girls.
They’ve also been part of the ConnectED initiative since 2014, which funds teaching and learning solutions in schools throughout the US.
Coca-Cola donates at least 1% of its annual operating income to supporting causes and initiatives. Since 2014, they have helped provide clean drinking water for refugees in the Middle East through Arwa’s “Price of Water” campaign. Learn more about this here.
10. Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines donates in-kind travel to nonprofits who are traveling for fundraising purposes. They also provide sponsorship for fundraising events, particularly in areas served by the airlines. This is usually a one-time arrangement, rather than a long-term partnership.
Their CSR focus is on investing in strong communities and support organizations that work with disadvantaged young people to help them achieve career goals, organizations working with underrepresented demographics, and environmental organizations.
BMW works with organizations to meet their CSR goals of promoting diversity, inspiring the next generation of engineers, social mobility and inclusion, and teaching road safety.
They also encourage their employees to support projects and organizations that matter to them.
DELL wants to use its technology and expertise to drive global change. Their staff dedicated 5 million volunteer hours in 2019 to organizations in their communities. This was predominantly skills-based.
Their technology was used to deliver faster treatments for critically ill children, help educate more children around the world, and revolutionize the Indian government’s preventative healthcare system.
13. Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to nonprofits. Their CSR efforts are focused on helping more children feel happy and inspired.
They’ve fulfilled wishes for over 130,000 sick children and have also supported Girls Who Code since 2015 and Snap the Gap (a pilot program aimed at boosting confidence and skills for girls).
Microsoft has CSR initiatives around improving skills and employability, and environmental sustainability.
Through Microsoft Philanthropies, they partner with nonprofits, organizations, and schools to improve computer science education and achieve greater impact through technology. They also champion organizations that aim to improve the quality of life for people in Washington.
Microsoft employees also support causes in their local communities since employee giving is a strong part of the company’s workplace culture. Along with donations, they also contribute volunteer time and skills to organizations. For financial and time-based contributions, Microsoft matches those made by their employees.
How Nonprofits Can Make the Most of CSR
With more businesses investing in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs, there are lots of benefits for establishing and maintaining partnerships with like-minded companies.
Here are a few tips for making CSR partnerships work for your nonprofit:
- Look at a CSR partnership as an equal-footing relationship that benefits your nonprofit and the company. Many nonprofits see themselves as an inferior party in the partnership. This should not be the case as it can affect the level of investment that’s offered.
- Bear in mind that companies won’t necessarily make a financial contribution — investment can also include volunteer support and in-kind donations, for example, some companies will look to offer non-financial support, to begin with, before they become a sponsor/partner.
- Do in-depth research to make sure you’re approaching companies who will be a good fit for your organization and will benefit from partnering with you. It can be smarter to focus your efforts on a small number of brands, rather than trying to set up lots of partnerships with brands that don’t fully align with your goals and cause.
- Highlight the benefits for the company, including the impact on their reputation, company culture, employee engagement, and relationships with their target market.
- Show your impact through statistics and other details to demonstrate the bigger-picture benefits of collaborating with your nonprofit.
- Having effective tools in place to track donations, and showcasing your donor base can be crucial for securing CSR partners. Here at Donorbox, we make it easy for organizations to stay on top of donor engagement, which can be demonstrated to potential partners.
- If your organization has a great track record in certain types of donor engagement, use this as a selling point when approaching CSR partners. For example, perhaps you have had success in engaging with particular donor demographics or a specific engagement channel.
- Think about how you can incorporate promoting a CSR partner into your organization’s marketing and communications strategy. If you don’t already have a strong marketing plan, you’ll want to put one together before you approach potential CSR partners.
Over to You
Establishing CSR relationships can be daunting for your nonprofit, especially if you don’t have any existing corporate partnerships.
Many businesses get involved in CSR for a positive impact on their brand image and reputation. However, you don’t need to be a large or well-known nonprofit to reap the benefits.
With support from CSR partners, your organizations can reach out to new donors who may not otherwise be aware of your work. Even if financial contributions aren’t an option, volunteer and in-kind support from CSR partners can help you to further your cause and make more of your resources.
Have a strategy in place to target CSR partners that will be a great fit for your organization. Establish the approach along similar lines to a large-scale fundraising campaign or major donor campaign. A great storytelling strategy would be a plus to any campaign!
Here at Donorbox, we’re supporting over 30,000 organizations to secure more donations and streamline their fundraising efforts.